Ten central trade unions to go on strike tomorrow; Govt expects minimal impact
While these ten unions claim to have a combined membership of 15 crore workers in public and private sector, including banks and insurance companies, several outfits representing informal sector workers also on Tuesday announced their support to the strike.
Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, however, said he expects the impact to be minimal.
“I don’t think essential services will be affected by the strike. I feel that the impact will not be much. I appeal them to call off strike in the interest of workers and nation,” Dattatreya told reporters in New Delhi.
The union leaders, however, said the strike will affect the functioning of essential services like banking, transport and supply of power, gas and oil.
Countering this claim, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) said that power, oil and gas supplies will not be affected as a large number of public sector workers in these areas would not participate in the industrial action.
As many as 12 central trade unions had given this strike call over a 12-points charter of demands, including withdrawal of the proposed changes in the labour laws and stopping the disinvestment and privatisation of PSUs.
While as many as ten central unions have decided to go ahead with the strike after their talks with a group of senior ministers last week failed to yield desired results, the BMS pulled out saying the government needed to be given time to fulfill its promises on the basic demands. The National Front of Indian Trade Unions (NFITU) will also stay out.
The government also indicated that the talks with trade unions will continue even if they go on the strike on Wednesday.
On impact of the strike, Dattatreya said, “The BMS and NFITU are not in the strike. Besides there are 2-4 organisations (unions) which are neutral.” He did not reveal the names of the ‘neutral’ trade unions.
He further said, “We don’t want any confrontation with trade unions. The workers’ rights and interests are supreme to us. We will continue talks with trade unions even after tomorrow’s strike.”
Meanwhile, various outfits for informal sector workers, under the banner of Working People’s Charter, appealed to BMS to rethink on its decision to withdraw its support to the strike at the eleventh hour.
Speaking on behalf of the ten strike-bound central trade unions, All India Trade Union Secretary D L Sachdev said that all ten central trade unions recognised by the government will go on strike on Wednesday.
He also claimed that “many state units of BMS will also join the strike”.
Earlier in the day, BMS General Secretary Virjesh Upadhyay told reporters that “a large number of public sector undertakings who are members of central trade unions are not going on strike on Wednesday.
“Thus, services like power, oil and gas supply will not be affected. Big PSUs like NTPC, NHPC and PowerGrid will not observe strike tomorrow. Therefore, the power supply will not be affected”.
Upadhyay said the National Front of Indian Trade Unions has also decided not to go on strike and wants to give some time to the government, at least till the Winter Session of Parliament, for fulfilling its assurances like uniform minimum wages across the board and enhancing wage ceiling for bonus.